Relationships are never picture-perfect. They can be a messy bag of frustration, passion, joy, and disappointment. There are probably one or two things that drive you crazy about your partner. He doesn't take out the trash, or she checks her phone too much at the dinner table, or he doesn't seem to listen when you vent about your bad day. But of all the things you think need improvement (which, don't get me wrong, could be perfectly valid), how about focusing on what you're getting?
Just as it's a choice to criticize or blame our partners for what we think we're not getting in a relationship, it's also a choice to be grateful for what you have and for where you are in this moment. Gratitude can not only improve your attitude; it can help improve your love life, as well. Let's look at how.
How you act is what you attract. Kindness attracts kindness. Thoughtfulness attracts thoughtfulness. Love attracts love. One thoughtful act can be monumental in someone's day. And guess what? It can make your relationship stronger.
Bottom line: kindness trumps criticism, every time.
My fiancé taught me much about gratitude and the incredible ripple effect it can have on creating and maintaining a great relationship. He's one of the most loving, giving men I've ever met. He leaves notes on my pillow as thanks for something I've done for him (like taking him to Palm Springs for his birthday), as acknowledgement after I've accomplished something monumental (like writing a book), or when I've had a tough week to give me a boost. Sometimes... just because.
So, whether it's a note, a gesture, or by simply saying, "I appreciate you," your relationship will get a feel-good boost. Keep it up, and you'll go from complaining to compassion, arguing to appreciation, or blaming to a better understanding of your partner or the situation. By saying, "Thank you" to your partner for something they've done, like helping with the dishes, running an errand for you, or picking up your favorite coffee, it'll encourage them to do more, as well!
So take this opportunity to be grateful for the great things you have and for where you are right now, because what you focus on, you get more of. By expressing gratitude, you'll improve your connection, ease the little annoyances, deal with problems better, have better discussions, and find better solutions. And by acknowledging the best in someone else, you bring out the best in yourself, too.
This goes for any relationship in your life. So how about saying a big, "Thank you" to someone for what they've done for you, what they've inspired in you, or maybe even just for being a great friend, roommate, or coworker. Or say thanks to that driver who let you in (give him or her a wave, please) or the waiter who gave you a big smile when you were having a rough day, or the Starbucks cashier who treated you kindly when you ordered your triple, venti, soy, no foam, no whip, pumpkin latte.
A little "thank you" goes a long way.
And BTW, "Thank you" for reading this.